Pfizer's Fuzzy Patent
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is getting Pfizer's (Stock Quote: PFE) goat in a very big way.
Pfizer's patent on its impotence drug Viagra was partially rejected late last week after the government ruled that it wasn't sufficiently different from a Chinese herb Yin Yang Huo, otherwise known as Horny Goat Weed. An appeals board within the patent agency held that the method of treating male erectile dysfunction did not cover a new invention, according to Bloomberg. The patent claim was part of an infringement suit Pfizer had filed in 2002 against rival Eli Lilly over its competing Cialis drug.
Yes, we are serious. It's called Horny Goat Weed and, no, you don't smoke it — at least we think you don't. That said, we are not sure what Pfizer was smoking in the first place when it tried to patent an impotence fighting idea.
Pfizer argued that there was no evidence the herb treats erectile dysfunction. The board found, however, that a chemical ingredient of the herb is a similar type of enzyme inhibitor that's in Viagra. Pfizer also maintained that treatments using Horny Goat Weed also required "yellow rice wine, genital massage, rest, bathing in an herbal mixture and abstinence from intercourse and therefore does not establish that the treatment effect was due to Yin Yang Huo alone."
To be honest, barring the abstinence part, that sounds far more romantic than popping a little blue pill.
Either way, Chris Loder, a Pfizer spokesman, said other elements of the patent remain valid, and the decision "has no effect on Pfizer's claims relating to Viagra." Pfizer has until April 12 to seek a rehearing, or appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, according to Bloomberg.
In other words, they have plenty of time to take a long cold shower to plan their next move.
Dumb-o-meter score: 80 -- There's a children's book to avoid: My Pet Horny Goat Weed.